Les Miserables Cast Interview
Les Miserables Cast Interview
The film adaptation of the ever-popular musical Les Miserables hits screens amid excitement and high praise for the performances by its stellar cast. View met up with some of the stars of the film to talk about the music, the film and the way each performer approached their role in this stunning film musical.
Hugh, you seemed determined to be part of this film, this film was important to you. Why?

Hugh Jackman

Both trajectories I never really dreamt of, but I had been in musical theatre for a number of years starting way back with Cameron fifteen years ago now, doing Oklahoma! here in London and I’ve done movies for a number of years and I'd dreamt of being in a movie musical for a long time. And for some reason I just never even thought that Les Mis would be possible; it had been around for 27 years, it was so iconic and it wasn’t even on my radar when my agent rang me up and said, ‘I think they’re doing the movie of the musical’. I immediately rang Cameron. I said, ‘I’ve got to do this’.

I rang Tom Hooper and I said I need a meeting and he was very polite and he’d just won the Oscar a couple of months before and I went in to meet him and I said, ‘Mate, I’m going to audition for you. I’m coming in, I want to audition’. And he says, ‘Hugh, slow down. I haven’t even signed on to this picture. I’m not sure what you’ve heard, I’m thinking about it’. And I said fine, I mean, he almost called security on me, I’ve never been so aggressive going for a part, I think, and never been so grateful to get a part in my life.
Cameron, why was now the right time? Over the years you’ve had many filmmakers approach you about doing this sort of thing.

Cameron Mackintosh

Well the truth is this amazing cast we’ve got were either at school, they were babies or they hadn’t been born yet! So even though we were going to do it 25 years ago, thank God we didn’t! I don’t believe we would ever have found such an extraordinary cast, with most of them having a background in musical theatre that would have been able to tell a story through music in the magnificent way that they all have done. And they all, along with Hugh, fought to be in this movie and I think that’s a great testament to the strength of Les Mis as a piece. It’s such an extraordinary piece that has found new actors everywhere around the world and everyone loves it, everyone wants to possess this piece as their own.
Debra, Tom’s described the cast as a perfect mix of actors and with them all fighting to be a part of this, did that make your job easier in terms of putting it together?

Debra Hayward

Oh, so easy, so easy. Because we hardly had to do anything. It was like Les Mis itself is a sort of talent magnet and really the process was incredible and I’ll never forget, for instance, the first time I saw any of the actors here singing. Eddie - probably better to get Eddie to talk about it - put himself on tape and sent in, on a film that he was doing prior to this, a little clip of himself on his own that he’d filmed himself on his own camera. I remember we all gathered around Derek’s desk and just sort of watched this little telephone clip and we were like, ‘Oh my God’. And so it was very easy and we were blessed with just an amazing calibre of actors and singers.
Amanda, what was the audition process for you?

Amanda Seyfried

I sent in three different tapes over the course of, I think, a month and I was trying desperately to get to audition for Cosette and not Eponine, because I knew I was not capable of that kind of role, I didn’t have that voice. And so I finally met Tom in L.A. and then I kind of thought that we had this connection and I kind of knew right then that he was going to fight for me. And then over the course of another two months I had two trips to London to finally meet you and the team and, my God, the first time we met, and then the last audition was with Eddie and he had just gotten the role and Sam and I were auditioning and it was really challenging. And then I got the role a month later. So it was a course of four months, I’d say. But as soon as I found out, I just did this vocal boot camp.

Cameron Mackintosh

I mean, the thing is, you just can’t cast Eponine, Cosette and Marius separately. We always cast the trio together, because that’s where the special chemistry comes. And that’s why, for some of them, it was a very long, protracted, sort of nail-biting experience. It wasn’t because anyone wasn’t the person we wanted but we needed to find the three that would make absolute magic.

Amanda Seyfried

And how fun was it? We’d all gone through that audition together, so when we were on set finally for the rehearsal, it was just like – it’s special, isn’t it?
Eddie, we heard from an earlier press conference that there were 21 takes on one particular scene for you. As a vocal performer, to get to 21 takes, and Tom said you could have gone on, you must as performers find something within that you never knew was there?

Eddie Redmayne

It’s called fear. No, there’s a weird thing that happened. I’ve just had the pleasure of this morning bumping into Michael Ball who’s here and if you’ve grown up loving this musical and listening to the soundtrack, whether it was Colm Wilkinson who Hugh performed with or, for me, I grew up listening to Michael Ball sing this part, and it is the version of Empty Chairs At Empty Tables and it’s the one that you’ve known and loved.

And the stakes get higher throughout shooting because to begin with, you come onto set and you can hear whispers on set of the crew going, ‘Oh my God, did you hear that? It’s I Dreamed A Dream’. And then you witness Hugh singing Bring Him Home to you, which is extraordinary. And then gradually throughout the process, Tom, masochistically, would push Empty Chairs At Empty Tables further and further back into the schedule and it ended up being on a weekend and I remember coming in and that is the day.

With theatre you can go and mend it the next day if you screw it up, you can go and try and do it better. Here, I knew that I’d leave at the end of that day and you can never do anything about it. You’ll just have to wait six months, then see it on film and be disappointed with what you’ve done, which tends to be sort of the case. And so we did, I think, seven takes of it and Tom was like, ‘I think you’ve got it mate’, and I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We’ll keep going until there’s actually blood coming out of my eyeballs!’ And what was lovely about it is that the stakes are so high in that song, that it starts at such an emotional low because he’s lost all his friends, and it’s a song of survival guilt that you can start it somewhere dark and just take it darker. So the more takes you did, you could feed where you finish the song back into the top of the song, as it were.

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Content updated: 18/02/2020 05:52

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